Reial Societat-FC Barcelona (crònica): Unbeaten run ends at Anoeta (3-2)

Derrota del Barça contra la Reial Societat. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
An injury time winner for Real Sociedad put an end to Barça’s unbeaten league season, with Tito’s team going down 3-2 despite having been 0-2 up in the first half

Barça’s first league defeat of the season finally arrived with a 3-2 defeat in Donosti – an injury time winner for the Basques put an end to an astonishing run of 19 unbeaten games. It was a cruel way for the run to end – Barça had been two up within the first half hour, with only a late, late winner from the hosts giving them their win, but despite the dropped points, Barça still enjoy a clear lead at the top of the table.

Messi opens the scoring

Real Sociedad were always going to attempt to take the game to Barça, with talented attacking options in midfield and up front and a clear plan to press the visitors high up the pitch. Even so, it was Barça who had the early chances – Messi missing a great opportunity to open the scoring within the first five minutes and then almost immediately afterwards doing better with his second chance to put Barça one up.

Woodwork and goal for Pedro

Despite boasting 73% of the possession in the first half, Barça weren’t in total control as the game opened up – interrupted on 18 minutes by the ref when the lights at the stadium failed.  The league leaders soon doubled their lead though, when Pedro, who moments earlier had struck the woodwork, finished off a lovely sweeping move with Xavi  and Alves on 25 minutes.

Real strike back before the break

Messi nearly made it three on 39 minutes with a clever chip which beat the Real keeper, hit the post and was cleared off the line by two defenders. Immediately afterwards, Chory Castro hit home with a well struck shot from the left to beat Valdes, who was then forced into a good stop from the same player just before the break. Messi then drew a great stop from Bravo and the teams went in 1-2 at the break – Barça hadn’t quite been able to dominate in their usual style, but that was more down to Real’s good play rather than any fault in the visitors’ game.

Down to 10 men for the last half hour

Barça began the second half determined to slow the frenetic pace of the first half down and impose their more studied style on the proceedings and that seemed to be working until Pique saw his second yellow on 56 minutes and they were down to 10 men. Mascherano came on for Cesc to partner Puyol at the back, but the red card seemed to lift Real, who drew level five minutes later when a speculative Castro shot was deflected past Valdes off a Barça defender. Real seemed to be unsure whether to go for the win, or defend the draw, whilst Barça attempted to regain their control.

Injury time winner

Busquets was everywhere in defence, whilst Iniesta dropped back into midfield and Barça began to take charge again, admittedly without the attacking threat they’d shown at the start of the game. Real defended well and looked to have settled for a point until in injury time Agirretxe got in the end of a cross from the right and fired home to inflict Barça’s first defeat of the season.